As I write this, the U.S. senate is still up for grabs (49 Republicans, 47 Democrats, 2 Indies). My hope and prayer is that the Republicans will maintain control of the senate for one reason: the Supreme Court. The Senate has the power to confirm supreme court nominees. A Republican controlled Senate is more likely to approve justices whose judicial temperament is consistent with our President's philosophy on interpreting the constitution. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life. The judges appointed in the next two years will shape U.S. law for the next 20 years.
Right now the balance of power on the court is evenly split. The four conservatives believe issues not expressly mentioned in the constitution (abortion, gay-marriage, etc) should be decided by the legislative and electoral process. The four liberals are more likely to uphold Roe v. Wade and may even find a right to gay marriage in the “spirit” of the constitution. Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely be the swing vote.
If any of the four liberal justices were to retire in the next two years, President Bush would have to opportunity to appoint a fifth conservative judge to the nation’s highest court. If that happens, then for the first time in over thirty years, this country may see some real restrictions on abortion. The Court cannot impose those restrictions, but the states will be able to establish restriction using the legislative process.
JCEIL3 believes Catholics can legitimately vote for pro-abortion candidates. Certainly, a Catholic voter must weigh all of the issues when they place their vote. I would not expect a catholic to vote for a neo-Nazi racist in a small town mayoral election just because the candidate was pro-life. First, racism may be a strong enough issue to overcome abortion. Second, a local mayor really has no power to affect abortion policy, but could certainly cause great racial tension in his community. This is an extreme case. In most cases, Catholics should vote pro-life. It is a “non-negotiable” issue.
In Presidential and Senate races, a candidate’s pro-life credentials are extremely important because of the power they have to shape the supreme court.
JCEIL3, believes there may be proportional reasons to vote for a pro-choice candidate. He sites many pragmatic reasons: the war in Iraq, economic justice, etc. These may in theory be compelling and proportional reasons to vote pro-choice, but they are not practical. A Democrat controlled Senate and a Democratic President will not have an appreciable effect on the war in Iraq or on economic justice. If Democrat economic policies work (and that is a big if), the poverty rate may drop a couple points. If the Democrats were to pull us out of Iraq, they would leave a chaotic state that will cost far more lives than the status quo. In a practical sense, a Republican vs. Democrat controlled Whitehouse and Senate will not have a huge impact on saving lives. Conversely, a Republican Senate with a Republican President would have the power to shape abortion policy for years to come